01/10/2014 09:41 EST | Updated 03/12/2014 05:59 EDT

Montreal should buy ethical clothing for workers, Rotrand says

The City of Montreal should have an ethical clothing policy for the uniforms it purchases for civil servants, says city councillor Marvin Rotrand.

Rotrand sent a letter to Dimitrios Jim Beis, the chairman of the city’s executive committee, urging him to adopt a policy that ensures clothing made for police officers, blue collar workers and other city employees is made in an ethically sound way.

“I have a feeling a lot of people don’t give much thought to something like this,” Rotrand told CBC News.

Rotrand said that when city council approves a purchase, councillors don’t usually know where the clothing is made.

Many clothing manufacturing plants overseas are notorious for the way they treat workers, including low pay, long hours and dangerous working conditions.

In 2013 alone, a fire and a building collapse at two different sweatshops in Bangladesh killed more than 1,100 people.

“It’s like, here’s a contract, we’re buying $300,000 worth of shirts, here’s a contract, we’re buying $400,000 worth of these type of pants for blue collar workers… Nobody really thinks about it. I think we should be thinking about it. There are just too many tragic accidents [in sweatshops],” he continued.

Rotrand said he has also approached the Federation of Canadian Municipalities about the idea in hopes of making it a nationwide policy. 

Media reports from last month indicate the Ontario government is already considering its own ethical sourcing policy.

“I think we have an obligation to assure improvement in other people’s lives,” Rotrand said.